At first glance, one might think the Buccaneers defense had a bad day against the Panthers in Week 4. But take away a pick-6, two offensive turnovers from inside the Tampa Bay 30-yard line and a freak touchdown in the third quarter, and you’ll realize the Bucs defense was actually pretty solid. That is, up until the end of the third quarter when all momentum was lost and Carolina took advantage. Find out how each defensive position group graded out according to PewterReport.com and share your thoughts.
Despite giving up 133 yards on the ground with 51 coming from Cam Newton, the defensive line did force a number of off-balance throws and force Newton to flee the pocket at critical moments. Leading the collapse of the pocket was Gerald McCoy and Will Gholston, who started in place of George Johnson at defensive end and had success using an inside move throughout the game. Based on his performance against the run on Sunday, Gholston, who also had a tipped pass, will probably remain the starter, as Johnson struggled to get off blocks, whether it was against a tackle or tight end. On the other end was Jacquies Smith, who also made some nice plays, particularly in the first half. Smith was able to get around the edge on two third-down attempts, forcing Newton to escape and eventually set up forth down. Smith also contained Newton in the pocket for McCoy to get his third sack of the season in the third quarter, proving to be the Bucs most solid edge rusher by far. Still, the defensive line was only able to get one sack and allowed too many five-yard-plus carries by Newton and Cameron Artis-Payne in the second half. Though, it’s difficult not to when the Panthers have all the momentum to close out the game.
Linebackers typically go as the front four does, especially against the run. If the defensive line is able to get a solid push and stay in their gaps, the linebackers are usually able to hit theirs, too. Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Danny Lansanah each got five, four and three tackles on Sunday, most of which came in run pursuit. Of the three linebackers, Lansanah had the best performance. Along with a sack on third-and-goal in the fourth quarter, the eighth-year pro was responsible for forcing an off-target throw to Greg Olsen in the first series after flying past fullback Mike Tolbert to pressure Newton. While David was solid against the run and seemingly always there to assist a tackle, he missed a few plays in coverage, including a goal-line interception in the third quarter. After catching a break, the Panthers would score two plays later to make it 31-10. Missed opportunities here and there will kill a young team, and that’s what happened Sunday.
Many might overlook the fact that the defense’s worst let up happened on a play when Chris Conte jarred the ball loose from Jonathan Stewart before it bounced up and into the hands of Ed Dickson who ran it 57-yards for the score. It was just one those days for the secondary, who turned in a solid outing but just couldn’t catch a break. Along with Conte, who led with eight tackles (one for a loss on a screen) and showed great speed in pursuit, Bradley McDougald also had a good game. The young safety was often tasked with single coverage against tight end Greg Olsen and held him to just two receptions for 28 yards. Making it even more impressive was the fact that Carolina had multiple red zone opportunities to go to their No. 1 target, but McDougald was in lockstep. Of course it wasn’t all good. Mike Jenkins, who’s gradually been replacing Alterraun Verner, surrendered two touchdowns to Ted Ginn Jr. in ugly fashion. Both TDs, an out-route in the first quarter and a cross in the third that seemed to mentally deflate the defense, were from inside the 15-yard line. A mistake we’ve seen all too often this season from numerous Bucs corners, Jenkins didn’t re-route the receiver or press within five yards, leaving too much space for an easy touchdown. Even Ronde Barber sounded shocked while pointing out the “acres of room” given up in man coverage by Jenkins, saying “He was nowhere to be found.” As far as Tim Jennings, the two-time Pro Bowler had a much better performance this week, with good coverage on Philly Brown, as well as the awareness play of the game when he jumped on a bouncing fumble on the first snap of the third quarter. All together, the Bucs secondary allowed 11 completions on 22 attempts for 124 yards. Aside from a couple mistakes – which twice resulted in touchdowns – they held their own pretty well.
On a day where Bobby Rainey ripped off two solid opening kick returns – back-to-back 30 yard-plus returns to the Bucs 40 – the Bucs performance on special teams in Week 4 will be remembered by two missed field goals and a PAT. After once again drilling his first attempt, a 42-yarder in the first quarter, Kyle Brindza followed up with two momentum killing misses. The first, a 29-yarder, bounced off the right upright after the Bucs offense put together an impressive drive to close out the half and the second, from 43-yards out, was after the defense recovered a fumble inside the 30-yard line during the opening third quarter series. Those types of misses reflect a team that finds ways to keep points off the board and hand momentum right back to their opponent.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to bounce Jenkins out of here with Brinzda.
On the first TD he was standing 7 yards back in the end zone on a 3rd and 6 then trips when the WR takes a quick out route.
Leonard Johnson is better than that.
I agree on CB Jenkins – rarely healthy and when he is, he’s totally ineffective.
DE George Johnson is a wasted use of a 5th round pick. Lacks stamina and at best can only come off the bench in relief.
This is the last time I’m going to bring this up. The Bucs are either just not interested, the price is too high, or the guy has made it clear that he won’t play for Lovie.
Pro Football Talk reports Bears OLB Willie Young requested a trade following the departure of Jared Allen last week.
Young was active and played snaps Week 4 against the Raiders after being a healthy scratch Week 3. Like Allen, Young has been miscast as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he would be a great addition for a 4-3 team in need of pass rush help. Young is scheduled to make base salaries of $2.45 million this year and next.
I really can’t see what Lovie sees in this Jenkins > Verner move…either Jenkins has photos or Verner is dating Lovie’s daughter…
You’re right. It makes no sense EastEndBoy. How bad must Verner be if Jenkins is beating him out? Last year Verner was touted as an All-pro.
Lovie prefers CBs that can’t cover bc his system is that good. Who needs Revis when you’ve got Jennings/Verner/Jenkins for half the price!
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